Running with Sasquatch

Sasquatch-Racing-logo-300x300-2Last month, I ran my very first race of the year – The Rattlesnake Ramble. It was an awesome run out at Lake Chabot  in the East Bay. The course was interesting and challenging and the pre- and post-run festivities were upbeat and just plain fun! And really, any run that offers delicious, locally brewed adult beverages after the race is awesome in my book.

At this point, I’ve run enough races to have seen it all (bad, good, and great) and I have to say, I was totally enamored with the good vibes, quirkiness, and fun of the Rattlesnake Ramble. I was so stoked, in fact, that when I read that Sasquatch Racing put out a call for ambassadors, I immediately threw my hat in the ring to be considered. Now, I’m usually not the kind of person to try and sell people on products or companies, but I just loved the vibes of this race so much that I wanted to tell everyone about it! Thankfully, I was given the opportunity to become a Sasquatchador!

Sasquatch Racing puts on a series of races each year, and I’m planning to do them all. Next up is the Sasquatch Scramble on April 17. The race looks awesome! It’s being held out at the gorgeous Redwood Regional Park in the Oakland hills. I’ve hiked in this park before, and I’m really looking forward to running on the trails through the beautiful redwood forest.

The race is going to feature three different courses, 5k/10k/half and will include all of the awesome perks that are standard with a Sasquatch Racing event – technical tee, post-run beverages and snacks, and woodallions for the 5k/10k finishers and medallions for the half-marathoners! The schwag isn’t the only thing that makes Sasquatch Racing events so awesome though. The race also includes a trail treasure hunt and an appearance by Sassy the Sasquatch! After not having scored any of the treasure during the Rattlesnake Ramble, I’m really hoping I have better luck this time.

I’ve signed up to run the 5k course for this race and if you’re a NorCal local, I hope you’ll come out to run it too.  If you want to register, the awesome folks at Sasquatch Racing have offered my readers a $10 discount on the race. Just enter the code SASSY. Don’t wait too long, prices increase on March 31st!

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Scratching the surface of Death Valley

A few months back I signed up for a 10k race in Death Valley. I’ve always been fascinated by desert landscapes, but I haven’t had the opportunity to spend much time in them. The run was a great excuse to take a few days to explore California’s most famous desert. After making the long drive down on a Wednesday, we arrived in the desert on Thursday. We had planned to stay at an off-the-beaten-path campground, Wildrose Campground, but driving into the park, we found that the road to the campground off of Hwy 178 was closed! After a consult with the map (because, no cell service!) we found that we could likely take in another road off of Hwy 190. Whew! Crisis averted! After a quick side trip to hike out to Darwin Falls, we made it to Wildrose Campground in the late afternoon. The husband and I instantly fell in love with the secluded campground, tucked in a canyon on the west side of the Panamint Mountains. We had the campground almost completely to ourselves and had a great time exploring the area. Sometime in the middle of the night, we heard wild horses come through our campsite! The husband didn’t initially believe that I had heard the neighing of horses, but in the morning, the two other people in the campground both confirmed hearing neighing and hooves during the night. Vindication! Darwin Falls Scrambling up the side of Darwin Falls. wpid-wp-1423602296632.jpeg wpid-wp-1423598899252.jpeg wpid-0129151544.jpg The race we were running early on Saturday morning was taking place on the east side of the Panamints, in order to not have to wake up super early that morning, we ended up staying at Wildrose for only one night. On Friday morning, we drove east toward the Furnace Creek area, checking out the sights and stopping for hikes along Hwy 190. wpid-wp-1423602321390.jpeg wpid-wp-1423602450154.jpeg wpid-wp-1423602303738.jpeg wpid-0130151211b2.jpg.jpeg wpid-wp-1423602309901.jpeg The Furnace Creek Campground, sadly, was nothing like Wildrose. It was packed with both people and RVs, and is right off the highway. Thankfully, I had reserved a spot in the tent-only loop that is in the back of the campground, and we were mostly spared from having to listen to the noises from the RVs and traffic. The one great thing about the site we stayed in was that it backed up to an open area and we had a nice view of the east side of the Panamints. wpid-wp-1423602314710.jpeg We quickly set-up camp, and after a full day of hiking and sightseeing, we were looking forward to a relaxing time around the campfire that night. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans and around 6pm, the skies opened up and a steady rain fell for the remainder of the night. Thankfully we had a small tree next to our tent that provided enough protection from the rain so that we could cook dinner. On Saturday, we woke up to overcast skies but no rain. Unfortunately, we also woke up to the quicksand-like pit that our campsite had become. The rain had turned the sandy ground into a wet, sticky, muddy mess of soft ground. Our shoes were caked in mud, and it was almost impossible to move around without sinking into ankle deep mud. Ugh! We did the best we could to get ready for the race without getting mud all over ourselves, but it was definitely a challenge. The race was an out-an-back running along the shoulder of Hwy 190 to just past the Harmony Borax Works. The course was not overly challenging, and the scenery was absolutely beautiful. The husband and I had a blast running the 10k course. Afterward, we spend the remainder of the day hiking and sightseeing on the east side of the Panamints, hitting all of the usual spots, Badwater Basin, Golden Canyon, etc. Later that night, after returning to our now dried out campsite; we were visited by a pack of coyotes within a few feet of where we were sitting! Later, we enjoyed their boisterous calls as the sunset over our campsite. It was a great end to our trip to the desert. wpid-0131151306a.jpg wpid-0130151628.jpg wpid-0131151206.jpg wpid-0131151156c.jpg

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wpid-20150131_111911.jpg Though we were able to see a lot in our short visit, I know that we only scratched the surface of what Death Valley has to offer. I really want to go back and explore the non-touristy areas of the park. The husband and I are now talking about making this a yearly trip! How about you? Have you visited or ever wanted to visit Death Valley?

Weekly Workout Re-cap

From Monday-Wednesday last week, I didn’t get any workouts done. I spent all of my after work hours preparing for our trip to Death Valley (more on that later this week), and making the 9 hour drive to the Valley. I spent the next couple of days hiking and running in the desert, and then, made the long drive home on Sunday.

Here’s my workout re-cap for last week

Monday: rest

Tuesday: rest

Wednesday: rest

Thursday: ~3 mile hike, 45 minute walk

Friday: ~7 miles of hiking

Saturday: 6 mile run, ~4 miles hiking

Sunday: rest

I ended up getting home around 6pm on Sunday evening. After picking up my dog from my friend’s place and then getting dinner, I was beyond tired. Who knew that driving so far was so exhausting? Suffice to say, when my 5 am alarm went off this morning, I did NOT want to get out of bed, let alone, get on my bike and pedal to work. I caught the bus from my house instead. Lame but necessary.

New Year, New Goals

I love the start of a new year! So full of possibility and excitement for things to come!

Every year, I create a list of goals I want to accomplish in the new year. I’m not great at planning ahead, mostly, I just do things on the fly. Having a list of goals is a good way for me to feel like I’m sucking less at being organized and a good planner. Ok, not really…having a list really just helps me attain long-term goals. I tend to have a “live in the moment” attitude, and things often fall off my radar if they’re not happening in the here and now. Having a set list of goals to accomplish forces me to keep things on the forefront of my life.

Thinking about the goals I set for myself last year and what I managed to accomplish, I knew that I wanted to set goals that  build upon the things that I accomplished last year. Mostly, I want to keep pushing my body to do things that I never thought it was capable of doing. I just read this short article in Outside Magazine, and these words from Dean Karnazes really resonated with me: “I think Western culture has things backwards. We equate comfort with happiness, and now we’re so comfortable we’re miserable. There’s no struggle in our life, no sense of adventure. I’ve found that I’m never more alive than when I’m pushing and I’m in pain and I’m struggling for high achievement. In that struggle, I think there’s a magic.”

Even though I’m setting out to accomplish some serious goals, I’ve thrown in a lot of fun ones, as well. I don’t ever want to take myself or life too seriously!

So, without further ado, my goals for 2015:

  1. Run a half-marathon (definitely the North Face Endurance Challenge)
  2. Run a 25k
  3. Cycle a full century
  4. Hike to the top of Mt. Whitney (dependent on whether I’m lucky in the permit lottery)
  5. Complete 30 Days of Biking
  6. Complete ’15 Coffeeneuring Challenge
  7. Complete ’15 Errandonnee Challenge
  8. Complete ’15 Brewvet
  9. Complete first solo backpack trip
  10. Hit goal weight

Lots of work to put in this year for sure, but I know i’m going to have a blast along the way!

What about you? Did you set any goals this year?

Succeeding and failing(?) at reaching my 2014 goals

Back in December 2013, I came up with a list of things I wanted to accomplish in 2014. Here is the original post with the list of 8 goals, but essentially I resolved to: reach my goal weight, run 14 races (including 4 half-marathons), ride a metric-century bike ride, bike commute 3x/week for part of the year, complete 30 days of biking, hike to the top of Half-Dome, backpack in Yosemite, and hike once a week.

When I set this list of goals, I never imagined that I would face the biggest health issue of my life so far, and how much this would impact my ability to accomplish those goals. So, how did I do? Pretty good considering everything that life threw at me this year. Though I had to modify some of my goals, and let others fall away, I’m still pretty proud of the things that I did manage to accomplish. After having surgery and recovering for so long, I could have easily quit. I re-assessed my list based on my physical limitations after I had surgery, and I modified what I could. Here’s the final breakdown:

  1. Reach my goal weight: My goal weight is 165 lbs. In the month leading up to my surgery I managed to gain back some of the weight I had lost (thanks stress!) and after basically sitting on my butt for two-weeks after surgery and then not being able to do much more than slowly walk, I gained even more weight back. After I was recovered I tried Weight Watchers again, without much success, then tried the 21 Day Fix plan, with much better success. Since Thanksgiving, though, I haven’t done much in terms of being mindful of my diet or regularly exercising. I’m down to about 175 lbs.
  2. Run 14 races: I completed 13 races and was derailed only by the wrath of Mother Nature. I didn’t run any half-marathons due to my lack of time for training after recovering from surgery.
  3. Ride a metric century bike ride: I rode the metric-century route of the Chico Wildflower Century Ride 4 weeks after having surgery. One of the most physically difficult things I’ve ever done! I also rode the half-metric century route of the Sonoma County Backroads Challenge later in the year.
  4. Bike commute 3x/week for part of the year: I managed to bike commute at least 3x/week (sometimes more) during the nice months of the year. As the days got shorter and the weather got colder, my bike commuting decreased, but I still managed to ride at least once a week.
  5. Complete 30 Days of Biking: Since 30 Days of Biking officially runs from April 1-30, it was too soon after I had surgery to be able to participate in this. Bummer.
  6. Hike to the top of Half-Dome: I was unlucky in the Half-Dome lottery and failed to score a permit to hike this trail in 2014.
  7. Backpack in Yosemite: I finally backpacked in Yosemite! The husband and I completed a 25 mile loop from Sunrise Lakes to Cathedral Lake in August.
  8. Hike once a week: I started the year off on track, but with the stress of my diagnosis and then having surgery, this was the one goal that fell completely to the wayside. With running so many races on the weekends, too, this became a really unrealistic goal to accomplish.

Although I didn’t succeed in reaching my goals the way that I had initially set them, I definetely don’t feel like I failed either. Having lost 2 months out of my year to surgery and the subsequent recovery, I could’ve easily given up. Instead, I made some tweaks and made my goals fit within my modified time-frame. I think that’s a definite success! I’m working on my goals for 2015, and no matter what life throws at me in the new year, I know that whatever I set out to do, I will learn, grow, succeed, and fail in my attempts to accomplish new things. This is, after all, what life is all about!

On (almost) completing my running goal for 2014

If you’ve read this blog from the very beginning (unlikely), you might remember that one of the goals I had set for myself this year was to complete 14 races in 2014. I wanted so badly to smash this goal, for so many reasons. After I had surgery in March, I impatiently waited for my body to heal so that I could get back to running. By May, I was back to it, but had lost so much of my fitness during the healing process, it was almost like starting over from the beginning. I ran my first post-surgery race in June, and I was so SLOW! My legs felt like lead and I felt like I could barely move. I stuck with it though, and by October, I was running 5k races faster than ever before! In the process of completing this arbitrary “14 races” goal, I discovered trail racing, got faster, and gained a TON of self-confidence.

By December, I was two races from completing my goal, when Mother Nature intervened to derail me.The week that I was to run my 13th race, brought the biggest storms that Northern California has seen since the late 90s. My street, along with tons of other roads and freeways in the North Bay flooded, my workplace closed for a day due to flooding, and the course for my 13th race was under standing water. This was on Thursday. By Friday (the day before the race was due to go off), I received an email from the race organizer saying that due to flooding, storm damage, and downed trees, the course was un-passable and the race was being rescheduled to the following weekend (the weekend of my 14th race). After searching in vein for a replacement race somewhere in the Bay Area, feeling incredibly disappointed and upset after not finding a replacement, I accepted that I wasn’t going to complete my “14 in 2014” goal. There was really nothing I could do about it other than get over the feelings of failure and disappointment. I was a little heartened to learn, the following week, that the rescheduled race was completely cancelled due to further flooding and course damage that week.

So, all in all, I ran 13 races in 2014. While I’m still a little disappointed that I didn’t get to run #13, I know that I still achieved something pretty amazing! I am incredibly proud of completing so many races, and beyond amazed that my 5k time improved so much over the course of the year. For the most part, I almost never race for time…I’m just not that competitive, but it’s incredibly satisfying to see that for the first time in my life, I ran a 10 minute/mile pace.

I feel like I’ve learned so much in running all of these races. Since I started running, I’ve never LOVED running. This year, I discovered that I didn’t LOVE it because I don’t love road running, BUT I really do LOVE trail running. I really don’t know why it took me so long to figure this out. I mean, I love hiking and backpacking. It makes since that my love of trails would extend to running. Is it more challenging? YES! In many ways, I’m starting over with trail running in terms of speed and endurance, but it is just so much FUN. One of the other important lessons I’ve taken away from this racing year is how much more I should trust in my ability. When I first set this goal, I honestly wondered if I would be able to physically complete so many races. I hate that I even questioned it. I’ve learned to trust in my body’s ability to carry me toward the things that I want to accomplish.

I had originally planned to do a recap post of every race I completed, but I decided that all of that minutiae would be too boring to document. Suffice to say, I had a blast running every single race. Some were tougher than others, either physically or mentally, but I feel like I learned a TON every time I crossed a finish line. Someone jokingly suggested that I run 15 races in 2015, but I can honestly say that I have no desire to ever race so much in a year again. It was exhausting! Though I felt like I became a better runner over the course of the year, I also felt like I lost a lot by not focusing as much on training rather than racing. While I do have a running related goal for 2015 (more on that soon), it definitely won’t involve running so many races!

Can’t stop, won’t stop

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I’ve been pretty quiet these last few weeks but, BUT, I have a good excuse, I swear. I’ve been running non-stop!

Earlier this year when I set a goal of completing 14 races in 2014, I didn’t anticipate that I would be out for almost 2 months due to surgery, and that I wasn’t going to be totally recovered and back to my pre-surgery running pace until almost 4 months later. I thought about modifying my goal to account for all that lost time, but, well, I’m stubborn. Very stubborn. “I’m going to complete my goal, even if it kills me,” I thought. Ok, maybe not kills me, but definitely makes my life much crazier.

Since just before Thanksgiving, I’ve had, and have, a race every.single.weekend. Yikes. It’s definitely exhausting, but the end is in sight! While I originally wanted to do a recap of every single race, I honestly don’t have the time to do that, what with all of the holiday hustle and bustle that’s happening right now. I’ll likely just roll out a single post recapping all of the races I’ve run in the last couple of months.

What about you? Is your holiday season packed with races too?